Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts confirmed yesterday in a letter to season ticket holders that the team’s payroll would drop next season from a league-high $145 million. But in doing so, he dropped a mini-bombshell that, if true, will make a drop in payroll much easier to swallow.
“Given that we had the highest payroll in the NL in 2010, I get a lot of questions about our payroll commitment for 2011,” Rocketts wrote. “As I said earlier, we are still working on our 2011 baseball plan, so it is hard to be too specific at this time. What I can tell you is that our overall baseball budget (scouting, player development and payroll) will be about the same in 2011 as it was in 2010.”
In other words, the team plans to shift whatever organizational dollars are dropped from the big league payroll to things like draft signing bonuses, international free agent signing bonuses, and scouting and development.
“Continued long term success will come through superior scouting and player development, and we are committed to improving that facet of the organization. As a result, this likely means a shift of some of our resources from the major league payroll toward scouting and player development, but we are still very much in the evaluation phase.”
If this is just a put-on, Ricketts certainly knows how to say the right thing.
For years, although the Cubs have spent well in the Pacific Rim, it’s felt like they’ve been outpaced on an organizational level by most other teams, so his comments are more than welcome. Hopefully, they’re more than a hollow promise, because – prepare to be shocked and disappointed – in the last three drafts (2008-10), the Chicago Cubs have spent the sixth-lowest amount on draft bonuses in all of baseball, behind every other team in the NL Central. And in case you’re thinking it’s just because the Cubs had low picks in 2008 and 2009, the Cubs were still 13th lowest in 2010.